The Affordable Heat Act (S.5) is legislation designed to help ease the transition to clean energy by helping ensure that every Vermonter has access to cleaner and more affordable heat. The Act helps Vermonters reduce their dependence on high-cost fossil heating fuels like oil and propane through electrification, weatherization, efficiency, and decarbonization measures. It also establishes a Clean Heat Standard to reduce pollution over time.
The Clean Heat Standard “seeks to reduce and regulate emissions from natural gas, fuel oil, and propane distributors by creating a cap-and-trade mechanism” (Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy).
The Act is an outgrowth of Vermont’s 2020 Global Warming Solutions Act which requires greenhouse gas pollution to be reduced 26% below the recorded 2005 level by 2025.
It’s no lie that the most expensive heat is from fossil fuels, and the most affordable and price-stable heating option is clean heat. The cost of heating with oil – which more Vermonters rely on to heat their homes with than any other fuel – was at a close to record high of $5.48 a gallon in November of 2022.
By 2030, the clean heat services that could result from S.5 are estimated to reduce the overall heating costs of Vermonters by $2 billion, or an average of $7,500 per household (Energy Action Network VT). The Act should accomplish this with its Clean Heat Standard that will require importers of fossil fuels into Vermont to reduce pollution over time; they will have to deliver or pay for cleaner heat options.
If the policy is enacted this session, the Act will launch a 2-year process to thoroughly design the program by the Public Utility Commission and Department of Public Service with many opportunities for public engagement, as well as multiple studies to ensure the Vermont Government is prepared for questions and can help Vermonters understand the Affordable Heat Act. Before the program can begin, the 2025 Legislature must be voted on again to authorize the program to be implemented in 2026 as initially planned.
It’s a performance standard
The Affordable Heat Act will create a market intended to drive the gradual transition to clean energy at a wholesale provider level. It will not create any additional cost for the average Vermonter on their heating bill through a tax nor generate revenue for the State.
It provides more affordable heating options for Vermonters
While mainly in the form of additional financial support to help Vermonters insulate and weatherize their homes and install heating options such as heat pumps and advanced wood heating, S.5 is aimed to create clean heat services for low and moderate-income households!
It creates requirements for fossil fuel providers, not homeowners
Don’t worry, no one will take away Vermont’s fossil fuel heating equipment, and you won’t be forced to transition if you don’t choose to! This policy is a way to incentivize the delivery of those cleaner energy options for fuel providers so that they can become readily available and affordable for Vermonters who want cleaner, less pricey ways to heat their homes or businesses!
It will benefit the economy
73% of the energy in Vermont’s heat energy sector comes from fossil fuels. This policy creates a pathway for clean energy providers, allowing Vermonters to gradually rely more and more on cleaner renewable energy sources for our heat, most of which is generated in-state.
It will ensure Vermont is doing its part to reduce climate pollution, in line with Global Warming Solutions Act requirements
The Affordable Heat Act would establish a Clean Heat Standard – the number one pollution reduction recommendation made by the Vermont Climate Council – which would reduce heat sector emissions by 40% by 2030 and only go up from there!
What Do I Do Now?
We’re so glad you asked! The Affordable Heat Act lists eligible and suitable clean heat measures that can be delivered or installed in your home. At Building Energy, from the eligible list of clean heat options, we can improve the thermal energy efficiency of your home through weatherization and insulation, install ductless mini split systems, and install renewable electricity systems like solar panels (H.715, p. 13)!
The process of electrifying, weatherizing, decarbonizing, and making your home overall energy efficient starts by contacting Building Energy to learn about the measures you can take to improve your home!
We recommend the first step being an energy audit which evaluates your home’s thermal envelope, and from there, our staff can discuss solar and heat pump options too. If you know you’re ready to make the step towards a greener lifestyle, our senior energy consultants are here to help!